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Tinkerball Game & Simple Machines Interactives

Tinker Ball Simple Machine Interactive Game
The Tinker Ball game is one of a growing number of simple machine interactives to help kids understand how simple machines work and how they're used in inventions.  Tinker Ball is an invention at play from the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, through the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

The object of the Tinkerball game is get the tennis ball at the top of the screen into the small container at the bottom of the screen.  It provides everyday objects, like funnels, a hockey stick, rulers, gears, and springs.  Kids drag and drop the objects at the right onto the screen to guide the ball in the direction they want it to go.  They can rotate the objects to fit their "inventions."

If  the ball doesn't make it into the container when you release it, you can adjust your invention until you get it right.  Once you've succeeded, the playing screen is wiped clean and you can play Tinker Ball again.

There are lots of simple machine and even physics principles that can be learned with this game.  What type of simple machine is each object?  Can you predict the trajectory of the tennis ball when it bounces off a certain object?  Or how high it will bounce when it hit objects from a certain distance? Can you provide more than one path for the ball to take to reach the container?  Can you use all of the pieces?  Can you create your own Tinker Ball invention in your classroom from objects in the room?

Tinkerball is one of a few simple machine interactive games I've written about in previous posts. Try out the Simple Machines Game.  Or play with Edheads Simple Machines and Compound Machine, both listed in websites with Forces & Motions interactives and lessons.

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